Randy Krummenacher leads a clean sweep of the Phillip Island World Supersport test for Yamaha. After a difficult year in WorldSBK, the Swiss rider has got his step back to the WorldSSP class off to a strong start, beating both the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP riders. Lucas Mahias took second, ahead of his teammate Federico Caricasulo. Newcomer Sandro Cortese got his WorldSSP career off to a strong start, ending the test in fourth on the Kallio Racing Yamaha R6.
Marco Melandri has struck the first blow on the opening day of a two-day test for the WorldSBK class at Phillip Island. The Aruba.it Ducati rider was over a third of a second quicker than second place man Tom Sykes on the factory Kawasaki. In turn, Sykes was two tenths faster than his teammate, reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea.
The Kawasaki men both suffered crashes at Turn 11, with Rea having a very large highside which persuaded him to skip the second session on Monday afternoon. His time in the first session was good enough to keep his third place.
Lucas Mahias got his WorldSSP title defense off to a strong start in Phillip Island, topping the first day of testing ahead of this weekend's season opener at the Australian track. Despite strong winds blowing down the Gardner Straight and making life difficult in both the first and final sectors of the track, Mahias ended up a couple of hundredths ahead of his teammate, Federico Caricasulo.
Have we emerged any the wiser after three days of testing at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand by the MotoGP field? That is hard to say. The test was more for the benefit of Michelin than for the teams, and the French tire maker brought some 2000 tires for the 24 riders who took part in the test. The track itself was not particularly challenging or instructive in terms of understanding how well bike development was going. "This track is also not so easy or so difficult, it's intermediate," is how Monster Tech 3 Yamaha replacement Hafizh Syahrin summed it up.
Is it possible to draw conclusions about how the 2018 championship might play out on the basis of the Buriram test? "No, impossible," Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso said, before proceeding to do just that in some detail. "I can see Marc in a better shape than at the beginning of last year," Dovizioso said. "I can see Dani in a good shape, I can see Zarco with a little bit more experience, so a little bit better for the championship than last year."
It was harder to judge the Movistar Yamahas, Dovizioso said. "It's very difficult to understand the two factory Yamahas, because they will be fast in the race, on race weekends, for sure. But when you look at the riders and the teams from outside, it's impossible to know the details, so I don't know. I can see the Pramac riders are fast, they are happy with the bike, so I think they will be quite fast during the season."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of the test at Buriram in Thailand:
Pedrosa sets the fastest time in Buriram, Marquez shows the best pace
Today in Thailand, the Repsol Honda Team concluded another very productive session of testing that saw Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa continue working on the general development of their RC213V, carrying out tests on the latest engine configuration, chassis, aerodynamics, and Michelin tyres. Over the three days, Marc completed a total of 271 laps, Dani 224.
Dani Pedrosa leaves the MotoGP test in Thailand as fastest over all three days, the Repsol Honda rider posting his best time of the test late on Sunday afternoon. Tech 3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco did much the same, beating the best time of Marc Marquez set on Saturday.
Dani Pedrosa made a final dash for glory on the last day of the MotoGP test at Buriram, the Repsol Honda rider taking top spot from Johann Zarco, who had led the way since the morning. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider came up just under a hundredth short of Pedrosa, but put in multiple laps in the 1'29s, demonstrating his pace on new tires.
Johann Zarco has made good on his promise from yesterday to crack into the 1'29s by doing just that, posting not one but two laps under 1'30 on Sunday morning, using a soft tire. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man is just ahead of LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, and Repsol HOnda's Marc Marquez. As they have been previously, Suzuki's Alex Rins and Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller are close behind.
It is always easy to get carried away by testing. Seeing a particular rider at the top of the timesheets, it is tempting to start constructing a narrative which sees that rider dominate the season, while writing off the rest. That, of course, is nearly always a mistake. And in the case of the second day at Buriram, Thailand, it is definitely a mistake.
That doesn't mean Marc Márquez won't be fast for the rest of the year, as well as Saturday in Thailand. He has won the MotoGP title in four of his five seasons in the class, so topping the timesheets was not, as one journo joked, because Michelin gave him special tires for his birthday. Márquez had been fast, and consistently so, through both the Sepang and Buriram tests so far. But the order behind Márquez probably doesn't reflect the true relative strength of the field.
The reason? Tires, of course. On Saturday, Michelin brought a new rear tire for the riders to test, after the rears used on Friday had shown some signs of degradation. The original allocation of rear tires were the same as used at Brno, Argentina, Sachsenring, and Sepang. The new tire was the rear used at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That is relatively unsurprising, given that the place everyone compared Buriram to the first time they saw it was Austria. The different compounds in the Austria rear were better placed to withstand the stresses of Buriram, especially along the three successive straights in the tropical heat.